What’s News, Breaking: Tuesday, October 31, 2023
MAN ARRESTED AT JFK WITH LOADED GUN AND TWO FULL AMMO CLIPS
QUEENS — A PHILADELPHIA MAN WAS ARRESTED AT John F. Kennedy International Airport on Sunday after TSA officers detected a handgun fully loaded with 12 bullets and two gun magazines with 24 additional bullets in the man’s carry-on bag as he entered a security checkpoint. TSA notified Port Authority Police who confiscated the firearm and ammo, and arrested the man on weapons charges. Federal civil penalties can reach as high as $15,000 for bringing a weapon to an airport checkpoint.
“The only way to fly with your firearm is to ensure it is unloaded, packed in a hard-sided locked case and taken to the airline check-in counter and declared,” John Essig, TSA’s Federal Security Director for JFK said in a release on Tuesday.
CHEER ON THE NYC MARATHON THIS WEEKEND
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — THE ANNUAL NYC MARATHON IS SET TO TAKE PLACE this weekend, and with the race course routing through Kings County streets, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership is inviting locals to come amp up runners at its Mile 8 Cheering Station near the Barclays Center. The BID will distribute free cowbells while supplies last, and area shop Coffee Project will be providing free cups of Joe; the L Train Brass Band and Afro-Caribbean percussion ensemble Batala will perform for the crowd through the morning and into the afternoon.
More information about performance times and directions to the Plaza at 300 Ashland Place can be found online on the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership’s website.
VIOLENT ROBBERS ATTACK MAN IN WILLIAMSBURG FRIED CHICKEN JOINT
WILLIAMSBURG — THREE MEN ENTERED THE CROWN GRILL FRIED CHICKEN SHOP at 802 Grand St. in Williamsburg at roughly 5 a.m. Sunday morning, violently attacking and robbing a 25-year-old man inside, police said. After starting a verbal dispute, the suspects punched the victim multiple times in the face and body, and threw a table at him. They stole approximately $500 cash, plus property from the man valued at approximately $1,900, including his electric scooter. The suspects fled on foot and on the scooter, traveling southbound toward Bushwick Avenue. The victim sustained minor injuries but refused medical attention.
Police described the suspects as males with medium complexion, roughly 20 to 27 years old. Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782), or by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website.
CERTAIN LOTS OF VICTOR BEEF DOG FOODS
ARE RECALLED AMID SALMONELLA RISK
NATIONWIDE — A POPULAR DOG FOOD SOLD THROUGH CHEWY AND AMAZON is being recalled due to possible Salmonella contamination, the Food & Drug Administration announced on Tuesday. Mid America Pet Food has issued a voluntary recall of three lots of its Victor Beef Meal & Rice Dog Food Select Beef Meal & Brown Rice Formula produced at its Mount Pleasant, Texas, production facility due to a possible salmonella health risk. This voluntary recall was initiated after a third party conducted random sampling and product associated with three lots tested positive for Salmonella. The lot numbers are Victor Super Premium Dog Food, Select Beef Meal & Brown Rice Formula: 1000016890 (5-pound bag), Best By 6/12/2024; 1000016891 (15-pound bag), Best By 6/12/2024; and 1000016892 (40-pound bag), Best By 6/12/2024.
Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is a risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.
NEW PROGRAM WILL ADDRESS NEW YORKERS’ MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING
CROWN HEIGHTS — EmblemHealth’s NEIGHBORHOOD CARE IN CROWN HEIGHTS WILL LAUNCH its Serenity and Soul Well-Being program on Wednesday, Nov. 1, with a free, public event at its 546 Eastern Parkway facility. The Soul and Well-Being program aims to address the mental health and emotional challenges that New Yorkers face, particularly with an increasing number of crime and safety incidents. Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-09) has presented a grant to enable Neighborhood Care Crown Heights to begin offering free resources to help individuals build community, manage stress, and prioritize healthy nutrition and lifestyle choices. The launch event runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Serenity and Soul Well-Being programs will be available starting Nov. 1 through September 2024.
LONGTIME CROOK CHARGED WITH FIRE INSPECTION SCAM
BROOKLYN — A FORMER COLOMBO FAMILY GANGSTER WAS ARRESTED on Friday by FDNY fire marshals, reports the Daily News, for allegedly conning restaurant owners into paying him to falsely certify fire extinguishers for $20 each — a scam the crook, Michael “Big Mike” Castellano, is currently on probation for pulling on Long Island in 2018. Castellano reportedly has a long history of petty crime involvement, including a 1990s fake loan business scam, a 2000s MoneyGram cell phone hacking scam (netting the racket $1.5 million and himself 37 months in prison), and the 2018 fire extinguisher scam, which victimized more than 30 immigrant-run small businesses.
According to the Daily News, Castellano told authorities in 2018, “I’m not hurting no one. Other guys do it. I don’t charge much, $20, $40…I’m doing them a favor in a way. The real companies are the crooks.”
NY CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION AGAIN SUES NYPD FOR
DELAYS IN SENDING VEHICLE STOP DATA REPORTS
CITYWIDE — THE NEW YORK CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION ON TUESDAY, OCT. 31, FILED A LAWSUIT against the New York Police Department for what the NYCLU calls “unreasonably delaying the release of its vehicle stop data” for the third quarter of 2023. The NYCLU released an analysis on Sept. 21 that revealed for the first time, the sheer volume, stark racial disparities, and geographic disparities of the NYPD’s vehicle stops. This latest lawsuit seeks to address the Department’s unreasonable timeframe for the release of the data. NYCLU Staff Attorney Ify Chikezie charges that “This obstruction is part of the NYPD’s broader pattern of routinely delaying requests for public records and attempting to shield itself from public scrutiny.”
In 2022, roughly one million people were stopped in vehicles by the NYPD. 90% of those who were searched or arrested during the vehicle stops were Black and Latinx.
NATIONAL DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME DEBATE CONTINUES;
BUT HERE, IT’S ALSO NYC MARATHON WEEKEND
DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME IN MOST OF THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES ENDS THIS WEEKEND, but some people might need more than one day to prepare. The usual “spring forward, fall back” slogan means changing one’s clock to read an hour earlier before bedtime on Saturday; as 2 a.m. becomes 1 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 5. For nocturnal employees, this translates to an extra hour on the job. The only states that currently do not observe Daylight Saving Time are Hawaii and Arizona. People in different parts of Indiana have been on either side of the Daylight Saving Time observance debate, given regional commerce, farming or religious worship needs.
The end of Daylight Saving Time always falls on the same weekend as the New York City Marathon, which presents lots of rerouting for people trying to get to church on Sunday.
SEARCH FOR MAN WHO PUNCHED SENIOR AT HOME DEPOT
SUNSET PARK — POLICE ARE ASKING THE PUBLIC TO HELP IDENTIFY AN UNKNOWN MAN WHO around noon on Friday, Oct. 20, struck a 75-year-old man inside a Home Depot store in Sunset Park, causing the victim to fall to the ground; the assailant then fled in a gray vehicle. Security footage released by the NYPD shows the suspect as slender, with a dark-colored goatee and a medium complexion; at the time of the incident, he was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans with light-colored paint spots and black glasses.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org.
ELDERLY, DISABLED CITY RETIREES GRANTED
CLASS-ACTION STATUS IN CO-PAY CASE
CITYWIDE — A GROUP OF MORE THAN 200,000 ELDERLY AND DISABLED CITY RETIREES HAS BEEN GRANTED CLASS-ACTION STATUS in a case involving co-pays that violated their rights. Late last week, Justice Lyle E. Frank of the New York Supreme Court granted the class-action status to the retirees, many of whom are elderly and disabled, in the case Margaretann Bianculli et al. v. City of New York Office of Labor Relations et al. The plaintiff group’s lawsuit alleges that they are charged copays every time they receive medical care, and that these fees are a violation of the retirees’ statutory, contractual, and common law rights. Marianne Pizzitola, president of the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees, has praised Justice Frank’s latest action.
This past January, Justice Frank prohibited the defendants from repeatedly imposing copays on retirees, holding that the retirees were likely to prevail in their lawsuit and that the copays were causing them irreparable harm. Upon appeal, Justice Frank’s injunction was unanimously affirmed on appeal in May.
ONE BROOKLYN ZIP CODE MAKES U.S. MOST-EXPENSIVE LIST
CARROLL GARDENS — ONE BROOKLYN ZIP CODE made RealtyHop’s list of the 100 most-expensive U.S. ZIP codes this year: that’s 11231, covering Carroll Gardens and Red Hook, where the median asking price is $2,175,000, 3.57% higher than last year. NYC overall is home to five of the most expensive ZIP codes, one less than last year, according to RealtyHop.
For the fourth year in a row, 94027 in Atherton, California, is the most expensive ZIP code in America, with a median price of $7,950,000. RealtyHop’s survey was released on Tuesday, Oct. 31.
HOCHUL: STATE ACTION AS HATE CRIMES SURGE; JUDGE LIPPMAN TO INVESTIGATE ANTISEMITISM AT CUNY
STATEWIDE — GOV. KATHY HOCHUL ON TUESDAY ANNOUNCED that New York State is deploying “all available resources” to keep New Yorkers safe following a surge in hate and bias incidents in the weeks following the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks. The actions include an additional $50 million in funding for local law enforcement; $25 million for security funding for at-risk community and cultural centers; an expansion of the NYS Police social media analysis unit; and other actions.
Hochul also announced that Judge Jonathan Lippman, the former Chief Judge of New York and Chief Judge of the NYS Court of Appeals, will conduct an independent third-party review of the City University of New York’s policies and procedures related to antisemitism and discrimination.
THINK TANK: NYS’ IMPROVED FISCAL OUTLOOK COULD FREE UP FUNDS FOR MIGRANT AID
STATEWIDE — THE NON-PARTISAN FISCAL POLICY INSTITUTE’S MID-YEAR ANALYSIS of New York State’s financial health projects the state’s budget gap for fiscal year 2025 has narrowed significantly — from an earlier estimate of $9.1 billion to $4.3 billion. This improved outlook reflects stable tax receipts since May and slightly lower spending than projected. FPI Executive Director Nathan Gusdorf said in a statement on Tuesday that if the trend continues, the budget gap could narrow further, or even become “negligible.”
Gusdorf said the state might consider providing more funding to offset the cost of aid to migrants in New York City. However, the state and city should use their bargaining power “to negotiate preferable terms for sheltering expenses and finding other cost efficiencies,” he said.
A LOOK INSIDE BROOKLYN’S TALLEST OFFICE BUILDING
DOWNTOWN — BROOKLYN’S TALLEST OFFICE BUILDING, at 35 stories high, is roughly 60% leased, according to News12 Brooklyn’s inside look at the 1 Willoughby Square development. JEMB Realty told News12 that it’s the first new office building the borough has seen in a generation.
Companies leasing space there so far include Gemic, FXCollaborative, Big Spaceship and the Ms. Foundation for Women.
COLTON PRAISES DROPPED CHARGES AGAINST PARENT, BUT PUSHES FOR SCHOOL ANTI-BULLYING PROGRAMS
DYKER HEIGHTS — ASSEMBLYMEMBER WILLIAM COLTON IS PRAISING the Brooklyn District Attorney on his handling of a schoolyard brawl that escalated when two of the parents got involved. Assemblymember William Colton, his chief of staff (now on unpaid leave) Susan Zhuang and community leaders met with Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez about the charges being considered in the aftermath of the September 2023 schoolyard brawl at I.S. 201 (which Google lists as being at 12th Avenue and 80th St.) within his district. The case arose out of an incident in which a group of Asian students was allegedly assaulted by classmates, and which escalated a few days later when a man related to the alleged assailants was reported to have shown up at the home of one of the victims in the initial fight. The victim’s father was arrested as well as the man who went to his home. After interviewing witnesses and reviewing surveillance tape, District Attorney Gonzalez dropped the charges against the father of the victimized student.
Colton then led a group in a rally urging the Department of Education to implement effective anti-bullying programs.
COMMONPLACE RAISES $170K TO BUY PARK CHURCH
GREENPOINT — LAST-DITCH EFFORT TO REDIRECT THE SALE OF THE PARK CHURCH in GREENPOINT SECURED $170K IN 3 DAYS, thanks to a new crowdfunding investment model developed during the Obama administration. A local group of activists organized as “CommonPlace,” last Friday, Oct. 27, launched a broad-based fundraising plan with the goal of purchasing the church. Working closely with the New York City Real Estate Investment Cooperative, CommonPlace raised $170K in pledged investments from more than 115 Greenpointers over the weekend and continues apace. A video explaining the current efforts is available online. Interested parties are encouraged to get in touch and join our efforts.
If successful, these collaborative efforts will enable Greenpoint to purchase the Park Church — an outcome that local elected officials, a broad coalition of the community and reportedly, Attorney General Letitia James herself. Plans call for the church to become a secular community center.
UPCOMING BQE REDESIGN WORKSHOPS
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION WILL HOST A SERIES of public visioning workshops over the next two weeks on the changes coming to and proposed for the BQE over the course of its redesign and repair process. This third round of workshopping will discuss concepts developed from previous community feedback.
Virtual meetings on the BQE North and South will take place on Thursday, Nov. 2, and Wednesday, Nov. 8, while an in-person meeting on the BQE South will take place on Monday, Nov. 6 at P.S. 24; for more information on virtual meeting registration and times, visit the DOT’s BQE Vision website.
FIRE SAFETY FEARS RAISED AT FLOYD BENNETT MIGRANT CAMPSITE
MARINE PARK — AS THE CITY PREPARED TO OPEN A NEWLY CONSTRUCTED CAMPSITE at Floyd Bennett Field to 500 migrants on Monday, local politicians and area residents raised protests, reports ABC News, highlighting fire safety concerns stemming from inadequate fire hydrant coverage in the area now occupied by tents and other facilities. Councilmember Joan Ariola, chair of the City Council’s Fire and Emergency Management Committee, wrote online that the field “is a fire trap… This is absolutely a catastrophe waiting to happen — ‘not reliable’ fire hydrants nearly a half mile away and lithium-ion powered mobility devices in the area is a recipe for disaster;” Ariola has been an outspoken opposition to the plan to house people at the field, citing concerns over flooding and distance from services, and last month co-filed a lawsuit along with several other politicians in an attempt to halt the project.
Mayor Adams and Governor Hochul are enthusiastic advocates for the tent camp, which when full is set to house 2,000 residents; the mayor in a response acknowledged that conditions at Floyd Bennett were “unfair,” but repeated his frequent argument that the city cannot find any more space indoors for newcomers.
MEMORIAL FOR HAMAS HOSTAGES AT BROOKLYN MUSEUM
CROWN HEIGHTS — HUNDREDS OF JEWISH NEW YORKERS AND LOCAL SUPPORTERS GATHERED outside the Brooklyn Museum on Friday afternoon at a memorial to the more than 200 missing people kidnapped by Hamas militants from Israel earlier this month, reports Crown Heights Info. Organizers set places at an extra-long table with empty chairs for each victim on Eastern Parkway; attendees filed past to pay respects to the missing, many of whom are feared to be dead, and demanded action to see them safely returned.
Israel on Monday announced that the Israeli Defense Forces had rescued a female soldier kidnapped on Oct. 7 during an operation inside the Gaza Strip.
13 YEARS FOR CONEY WORKER OVER GAME BOOTH SHOOTING
CONEY ISLAND — A LUNA PARK WORKER WAS SENTENCED TO 13 YEARS in prison on Wednesday for the attempted murder of a park coworker over a business dispute in 2021, reports the New York Post, in what prosecutors described as a cold-blooded attack motivated by money. Joseph Colon, 38, had allegedly been arguing with his victim over the profits of their carnival booth in the week leading up to the shooting; on the night of Sept. 10, 2021, Colon hid in the “Jumbo Prizes” booth in order to ambush the other man, who he shot in the chest, before fleeing from authorities.
The victim was able to flee and escape, and was treated for his severe wounds; Colon was later captured by U.S. Marshals in Pennsylvania and was found guilty this May.
NEW YORK EXPANDS SNAP BENEFITS AT FARMERS’ MARKETS
BOROUGHWIDE — SNAP BENEFICIARIES ARE RECEIVING BOOSTED BENEFITS AT FARMERS’ MARKETS, according to a statement released by Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday. The “FreshConnect Fresh2You” initiative, which provides SNAP (formerly called food stamps) participants with $2 checks for every $2 spent at farmers’ markets, has increased coupon capacity by 156% this year, with 52 farmers’ markets statewide issuing coupons, up from 47 in 2022. Brooklyn is home to 38 of these markets, according to the program website.
Visit agriculture.ny.gov/farmersmarkets to find a participating market near you.
BROOKLYN PUBLIC LIBRARY NAMES BOOK PRIZE WINNERS
BOROUGHWIDE — THE WINNERS OF THE NINTH ANNUAL BROOKLYN PUBLIC LIBRARY BOOK PRIZE, which were announced on Monday, Oct. 30, are Lamya H, winning the Nonfiction Prize for Hijab Butch Blues, and Catherine Lacey, winning the Fiction Prize for Biography of X. The Brooklyn Public Library Book Prize recognizes writing that captures the spirit of the borough. Catherine Lacy’s best-selling novel “Biography of X” introduces the reader to a widow intent on setting the record straight about her deceased wife, and to the extraordinary journey in the process. Lamya H.’s memoir, “Hijab Butch Blues,” unfolds her quest for community and belonging as a queer, devout Muslim immigrant.
This year, librarians and library staff members working in BPL’s 62 locations nominated over 80 books, including stories of immigrants and innkeepers, surgeons and sea merchants, musical composers and marine biologists, writers and working-class families, representing all of the borough’s richly diverse communities.
MTA PUBLIC TOWN HALLS WILL SHOWCASE INTERBOROUGH EXPRESS PROJECT
BOROUGHWIDE — THE METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY WILL HOLD ITS FIRST SERIES of public town hall meetings, in Brooklyn and Queens, on the Interborough Express, which could potentially provide connections to 17 subway lines, and serve neighborhoods that currently lack subway access. The Interborough Express would use the existing right-of-way of the Bay Ridge Branch, a freight rail line that runs through Brooklyn and Queens, connecting ethnically and socioeconomically diverse neighborhoods between Bay Ridge and Jackson Heights. The first town hall will be held at Brooklyn College in Flatbush, next Wednesday, Nov. 8, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The other Brooklyn Town Hall (in addition to one in Queens on Nov. 15) will take place on Thursday, Nov. 30, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Widdi Catering Hall in Sunset Park.
The town hall events will provide an opportunity for members of the public to learn more about the proposed project and to provide feedback on its potential benefits as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) prepares to formally enter the environmental review process.
FIRST SIX OMNY CARD VENDING MACHINES ACTIVATED IN NYC — CASH NOW ACCEPTED
CITYWIDE — THE FIRST SIX OMNY CARD VENDING MACHINES have been activated across New York City, MTA announced on Monday. Customers will be able to pay for the cards and refills with cash, along with credit or digital cards and wallets. “Allowing cash-paying customers to easily get and refill OMNY cards is a great addition,” said MTA President of Construction & Development Jamie Torres-Springer. The first vending machines located in Brooklyn have been installed at Atlantic Ave-Barclays Center. Other locations include 86th Street and Lexington Avenue; Bowling Green; Fordham Road (two installed there); and Junction Boulevard.
“Thanks to the MTA, the George Costanza wallet is a thing of the past, we are all tapping in and out of the subway system in record speed,” Councilmember Lincoln Restler (D-Greenpoint, Brooklyn Heights) said in a release.
BROOKLYN OFFICIALS ARRESTED AT GRAND CENTRAL PROTEST OVER BOMBING OF GAZA
MANHATTAN — BROOKLYN ASSEMBLYMEMBER EMILY GALLAGHER (D-Greenpoint-Williamsburg), state Sen. Jabari Brisport and City Council Member Shahana Hanif were arrested at Grand Central Station on Friday during a mass demonstration calling for the end of the bombing of Gaza, amNY and the New York Post report. The protest was organized by Jewish Voice for Peace, which hopes to call attention to the plight of Palestinian civilians under bombardment following the horrific Hamas attack on Israeli citizens on Oct. 7. Police shut down the entrances to Grand Central Terminal, leading to hundreds of angry commuters fighting to get to their trains. According to CBS News, 200 protesters were arrested.
“In the last two weeks, over 7,000 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis have been killed,” a statement from Jewish Voice for Peace claimed.
FDA ISSUES WARNING ON BRANDS OF EYE DROPS
NATIONWIDE — MORE THAN TWO DOZEN VARIETIES OF EYE DROPS CARRY A RISK OF INFECTION and are being pulled from the shelves of major drugstores, such as CVS And Target, the Food & Drug Administration is warning consumers. According to an Associated Press story, 26 over-the-counter lubricating eye drop products carry a risk of infections that could lead to blindness. The affected store-brand products are sold by CVS Health, Target, Rite Aid and Cardinal Health. Consumers should stop using the products immediately and avoid purchasing any that remain on pharmacy and store shelves.
After FDA inspectors found unsanitary conditions and bacteria at the facility producing the drops, the agency asked the retailers to pull the products. But the FDA did not disclose the location of the factory or when it was inspected.
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